Are we, as depressives and daily survivors of mental illnesses, to blame for what our brain does to us and others? What happens to us affects other people. There’s no doubt about it. We’re moody. We tend to become hostile to even those closest to us. We alienate anyone and everyone, whether it’s our intention to or not, because it’s what our brain tells us to do. We are but slaves to our brains, after all.
I’ve been thinking about that lately. And just today, I had a short conversation with a friend about it. I’m still trying to figure it out, frankly speaking. The more my head’s clear because of the anti-depressants, the more I get to think about how depression has affected me all my life. Before medication, before the darkness had a name, I never once considered the ramifications and the specifics of being a depressive. I just thought I was weird. I just thought I was so different from everyone else that the concept of responsibility was alien to me.
Responsibility. There’s that word. Are we truly responsible for our actions, or is the illness to blame? Are our faulty brains to blame? Isn’t the brain, faulty or otherwise, part of us? If so, then aren’t we our illness?
There’s a scary thought. “We are our illness.” “I am my depression.” “I am my anxiety disorder.” “I am my fuck ups.”
“I am not my cancer,” a cancer patient would say.
“I am not my missing limb,” a missing limb patient would say.
No disrespect to those with physical ailments, but when the main problem is the one thing that was designed to control our every movement, our every emotion, our every thought, our very disposition, suffice to say, we’re fucked. Our brains literally betray us, go against us. We don’t want to think about blowing our brains out, but we do. We don’t want to be afraid of waking up tomorrow, but we are. We want to get out of bed so we can be regular human beings and be productive, but our brain tells us “no, fuck that shit. Stay in bed.” We want to fall madly in love with life, but we’re afraid of the madness. More madness, I should say.
Personally speaking, looking at my life from the outside, I’ve been irresponsible. I’ve mostly been a failure all my life. I never did well in my academics. I repeated my senior year of high school. I flunked my first year of college, so I had to transfer to another school. Then I dropped out from that. Stopped going to class after an incident that I couldn’t deal with. Then I re-enrolled as a freshman again. Same school. Two years later, I was forced out because of my stuttering. Transferred to the first college I attended. Dropped out from there again.
In my romantic life, well…there’s really nothing there. I’ve had two relationships, but for the sake of this topic, let’s make it three. That first one lasted for two months. I didn’t know if it was even a relationship. It was one of those things that just sorta happened. The second one was three years later. It lasted for three months. I rushed into it. The third one was nine years later. Again, I rushed into it.
I’ve had women that I fancied. A lot, actually. But I never had the courage to ask them out. One, I had intense feelings for. I liked her for a long time. Longest I’ve ever had any romantic notion for. I did ask her out. Twice, in fact. A year apart. I got friendzoned both times. That’s what you get for falling for a friend. Lol
There’s another one that I asked out. Sort of. I liked her. I really liked her. The feeling was mutual. But all my fears and insecurities came out of the woodwork. She’s accomplished. She’s full of life. I was barely worth shit. I never followed through.
In terms of accomplishments, prior to my short stint as a singer-songwriter, I barely had any. I was too afraid to go for the things that I wanted to do. That I needed to do. I’d think things through and I’d always end up with “no, don’t do it.” Overthinking. I couldn’t help it. I didn’t want to, but I couldn’t help it. I was a slave to my own thoughts. I was a slave to my depression.
I thought it was my stuttering that hindered me from actually living. I thought I was fearful because of how people perceive me because of the way I speak. As it turns out, it was the depression all along. There are other stutterers out there who’ve lived normal lives. Stutterers who are successful in whatever fields they’ve chosen. And there I was wasting years of my life because I couldn’t move an inch. I couldn’t overcome that communication flaw I have.
“Confidence,” they’d always say. “You just need confidence.” Like it was easy to be confident. My brain wouldn’t let me be confident.
Do I blame depression for all the years that was wasted? I do. Do I blame my faulty brain for all the things I never got to do, that I never got to accomplish in life? I do. Do I blame my thoughts for dragging me down the deep end when all I ever really wanted to do was rise up and be the man I envisioned myself to be? Damn right, I do.
Am I responsible for all the fuckups I’ve done all my life? Am I responsible for the life that I never lived? Am I responsible for pushing people away? Am I responsible for the hatred I kept buried inside of me? Am I responsible for all the choices that only hurt myself and those I care about? I am. I am responsible.
I am my depression. But it’s time to stop being my depression.